Rick* was born to a devout Catholic mother and a violent, alcoholic father. Due to the violence, his mother left his father when he was 10 or 11 years old. As she was on the verge of emotional collapse, with no financial means at her disposal, Rick’s mother had no choice but to leave him at an orphanage. From there Rick was taken to St Vincent’s Home in Westmead run by the Marist Brothers. Here, Rick was subjected to brutal physical and sexual abuse.
Brother Laetus was the headmaster at St Vincent’s at the time. He would regularly call Rick into his office where he was beaten by hand, or with a cane. This was done as an excessive form of discipline. For two years, Brother Laetus would also regularly sexually assault Rick. He would be called into Brother Laetus’ office after swimming lessons, wearing only his speedos. In the adjoining rest room, he would be told to remove his speedos. Brother Laetus would then push his body up against Rick’s back, reach around and grab his genitals. While painfully squeezing his genitals, Brother Laetus would insert one or more fingers into Rick’s anus. Rick is unsure if he was anally raped, all he knows is that it was agonising. Rick did not attempt to escape, as he feared he would suffer further if he did.
In putting Rick’s case to the Marist Brothers, Kelso Lawyers gathered together an extensive report outlining the extensive and long-term trauma attributable to the abuse. We spoke to Rick’s counsellor and organized for a psychiatrist’s report about Rick’s current condition. In addition to a securing a sincere apology from the Marist Brothers, we also negotiated a substantial financial settlement.
A teacher at St Vincent’s, Brother Jerome, would also beat and sexually abuse Rick. He would sit next to Rick while watching television, covering him with a blanket and then reaching under his pyjamas to fondle his penis. Similar behaviour occurred in the boys’ dormitory at night. If Rick complained or resisted, he and the whole dormitory would be severely punished.
When Rick tried to report the abuse to the police, he was assaulted. The police officer he spoke to, Sergeant Black, grabbed Rick’s hair, slapped his face and threatened to charge him with making false accusations. Rick never sought to formally report the abuse again.
Since this time, Rick has struggled in all aspects of his life. His education suffered dramatically, leaving school in year eight. Even before leaving school Rick believes he learned virtually nothing there, leading to difficulties with literacy. He has abused drugs and alcohol, as have many of the other boys who survived the abuse at the home. Rick was an alcoholic by his late teens, and turned to illicit substances in a bid to block out his memories. Relationships prove an ongoing challenge. He has not had a long-term relationship for more than 30 years, and he has lost contact with his children. He continues to suffer from extreme anxiety and depression and has attempted suicide several times.
Rick looks forward to providing something to his children and grandchildren in his will. He is also going to buy a new car.
When Rick gradually started to achieve stability in his life, he decided he wanted to do something about the abuse. With the assistance of Kelso Lawyers, Rick’s case was put to the Marist Brothers. We obtained all Rick’s medical records and spoke to his long-term counselor. We arranged a psychiatrist to provide a professional report about Rick’s current condition. We showed the Marist Brothers that Rick was still severely traumatised by the abuse and that he needed immediate help and compensation.
We arranged a meeting with a senior member of the Marist Brothers. We arranged travel and accommodation for Rick and his partner to attend the meeting. Rick was able to tell a senior member of the Marist Brothers about the abuse that he suffered at St Vincent’s, and the long-term impact this has had on his life. He received a heartfelt, sincere apology from the senior member of the Marist Brothers. Kelso Lawyers then negotiated a sizeable financial settlement, providing practical assistance in moving forward with his life. Rick looks forward to providing something to his children and grandchildren in his will. He is also going to buy a new car.
* Name changed to protect privacy